Sen. Jerry Moran hinted at possible retirement Tuesday but told a Wichita business audience he wants to make one last run at corralling the federal deficit first.
“I will not walk away from that issue,” Moran, 59, told the Wichita Independent Business Association. “In fact, I was ready to get out of politics until I watched my daughter walk across the graduation stage and concluded, ‘I’ve got one more fight in me – to try to make certain that my kids have the opportunities that I’ve had in my life.’”
Moran, a Republican from Hays, said he sees the deficit as the No. 1 threat to future generations.
“My parents’ generation have done a much better job of passing off to me and my generation a country than I am and my generation is to my kids,” he said. “A huge part of it is Washington, D.C., in which we continue to spend money, borrowing against the future.”
He projected that deficit spending will eventually lead to a financial crisis.
“At some point in time our creditors are going to decide we’re no longer creditworthy and interest rates will rise, or they won’t loan us money,” he said. “The problem is you’ll never know when it’s coming. It’s like a run on the bank. You don’t know when the emotion changes and the psychology is different.”
Moran said he’s frustrated by the difficulties in getting a divided Congress to cut spending, but another way to avert crisis would be to grow out of trouble by relaxing federal restrictions on businesses, particularly health care and banking regulations.
Moran cited two examples of federal laws that he thinks are especially hurtful to business: the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare; and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, known as Dodd-Frank and aimed at reining in excesses at financial institutions that contributed to the recession.
Although the House has voted 40 times to repeal Obamacare, Moran said there were two turning points that made repeal extremely unlikely — the Supreme Court decision upholding the act and the re-election of President Obama.
“There’s no bill that will pass the Senate or be signed by the president that undoes Obamacare,” he said.
Moran said that in the absence of repeal, businesses are finding work-arounds.
He said he knows of competing warehousing companies in Johnson County that are planning to swap their workforces at lunchtime on a daily basis. Because the workers would be part-time at both companies, that would free the employers from having to provide health care coverage, he said.
On banking, Moran said he’s worried that Dodd-Frank, aimed at major players in the financial markets, will drag down community banks that will have to either die or merge into larger companies to meet the regulatory burden.
Moran said that during a visit to Coldwater, a banker told him that federal examiners had come by and suggested he hire an additional two people to handle compliance. At present, the bank employs only six people, Moran said.
Moran encouraged the businesspeople to support a bipartisan bill he’s sponsoring with two Democrats and one other Republican called Startup 3.0. The bill would require that government perform a cost-benefit analysis on regulations that apply to start-up companies. In addition, it would create tax breaks for investing in new businesses to make more capital available to entrepreneurs, Moran said.
It also would make it easier for immigrant entrepreneurs to enter the country to start businesses and for immigrant students who are educated in the United States to stay.
“Immigration is an important issue to us in Kansas,” Moran said. “One of the things that we need is to make certain we compete in the global economy with people who have the skill set.
“We need to be creating those people … and in some cases we need to be allowing people who are educated here to be able to use their skills to work for companies across our state.”